Don't worry, it's ... Probably Fine

Notes from the Week #35

25 Jan 2020

weeknotes migration line management conference

Lots of stuff this happened this “week”.

We declared game-over on our final “old” environment

We had finished migrating our production environment at the beginning of December last year. There was (until this week) still a test environment running on the old infrastructure.

On Friday we drew a line in the sand and said “No more”.

After informing connected stakeholders ahead of time about migration to the new test environment, the final environment is now officially unsupported and will be decommissioned in earnest over the coming weeks.

Other than standardising our configuration, we are now able to go on a huge deleting spree through the codebase. All the feature flags necessary to support different datacentres, queues, and storage solutions can be removed and the codebase dramatically simplified.

I’m excited for those stories to start flying across our planning board, a feeling which is echoed by the rest of the team.

We talked about API standards

I’ve been working alongside the team’s technical architect to identify which parts of the Document Checking Service API conform to our API standards and which parts don’t.

There are some very low hanging fruit alongside things that will requires substantial “sitting and thinking” about.

However, this is progress towards a better API for our users and I’m looking forward to planning how we will user test some of these changes.

I’m a line manager again

This quarter I’ve taken on line management for a developer who luckily is also on my team.

I was surprised to hear that I’d been suggested by two people independently, having been observed to be good at “human stuff”.

That’s really nice feedback to hear, and I’m looking forward to being a line manager again. Having that role when I was on the Shift team at Unruly was one of my best experiences and I get a huge kick out of it.

I went to UKGovCamp

Last Saturday I went to UKGovCamp, a one-day unconference for public sector digital stuff.

The day was run really well, massive kudos to the organising team on that one. At no point did I feel anything close to “uh … what’s happening now?”. It was good to see some faces again that I recognise from various other things (including work, obviously). There was a really good session on how to compassionately stop running a service and what that means for users, which I really enjoyed.

But mostly, I felt pretty out of place.

I attribute it to stuff like:

  • I’ve only been in this sphere for something approximating 9 months, so I don’t completely understand all the moving parts and nuance yet.
  • There are people there who’ve been in this area for a long time compared to me. I found myself thinking “Oh, they’ve probably heard this before” a fair bit and erred on the side of not speaking (which was a mistake).
  • Breaking into a new group of people is always REALLY hard, and I believe it’s a learned skill that takes practice.
  • My impostor syndrome was pretty bad during some of the talks. I felt a bit stupid for not understanding some things.

Huge caveat to all of this: This was my experience, not anyone else’s.

You’re responsible for your own conference experience, to an extent. I realised, as a result of this, that I’m quite a bit more shy than I thought, and this caught me on the back foot - I’ll need to confront this again at some point.

I’ll likely apply for the ballot again, and hopefully will know enough to contribute to more of the sessions next year.

Other things

  • I’ve been working with our product manager to refine the way we prioritise work. I’m slowly starting to dislike Trello more and more, because it doesn’t effectively map to what my brain thinks of when I lay out priorities. In my ideal world, it would have both “swim lane” view (one of the good features of JIRA) and “dependency tree” view - Trello doesn’t seem to be able to capture multi-dimensional priorities well.

  • I’ve joined byte because why not. I managed to snag @probablyfine so I’ll probably be putting out some mediocre content in the future.

  • I have a “good feeling” about the road we’re taking towards opening our currently-private codebase. There’s almost certainly a large amount of work to do before it’s ready, but it’s looking more and more possible as we go on.